Special to the Montrose Daily Press
With the holidays quickly approaching and Cyber Monday just around the corner, the FBI Denver Division reminds Colorado and Wyoming residents to be cautious when purchasing items online.
Thousands of Americans fall victim to cyber scams every year. With the busy holiday season upon us, attackers will take advantage of the opportunity to take your money.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2020 report, non payment or non-delivery scams cost people more than $265 million. Credit card fraud accounted for another $129 million in losses.
The two most prevalent holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. Conversely, a non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.
Another way to catch busy consumers off guard is to create a phishing email that looks like it might be from a big brand company the consumer frequently buys from or knows in order to get the victim to click on a link or open an attachment. The purpose for this is to either have the victim download malicious software or to gather personal information.
In some instances, the malicious software will retrieve personal information from the victim’s device. In other cases, the victim visits a malicious website where the attacker has them enter personal identifiable information such as:
name, date of birth, phone number, username, password, bank account number, and credit card number.
A big brand company will never send an unannounced email to their customers and ask them to perform any of the processes mentioned above.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season from being a victim of a cyber scam:
• Take your time. As soon as you receive an email you don’t have to immediately click on links or open attachments.
• Look over the email for spelling/grammatical errors and if you don’t recognize the sender don’t open any attachments or links.
• Use your cursor and hover over the sender’s email address and view the link to see the hidden email address and URL
• Be leery of an email that has an unusual sense of urgency.
• Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https in the web address.
• If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research by checking reviews.
• Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with an online purchase.
The best course of action is to never click on links, open attachments, or provide your personal information without verifying the reason behind the request or whether it is a legitimate business entity.
Understanding common online crimes will help prevent you, your family or business from falling victim to these criminals.
If you do become a victim this holiday season, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov). For more information about avoiding holiday online scams, visit FBI.gov/scams.